The John Marshall Law School in Chicago hosted the Forensic DNA for Trial Attorneys conference on May 29, 2014 and Injustice Anywhere’s executive director, Bruce Fischer, was in the audience to hear Greg Hampikian and Tom Zupancic speak. Both scientists, who advocate for Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, presented flaws in the 2007 Meredith Kercher death investigation by officials in Perugia, Italy, to a group of United States defense attorneys.
Brendan Max, Chief, Forensic Science Division of the Cook County Public Defender’s office, coordinated the event and presented “DNA: Basics You Need to Know.” Max specializes in the science associated with criminal investigations and is dedicated to educating trial attorneys about the realities of DNA in relation to Crime Scenes.
Hampikian, a Knox adviser from Boise State University, gave two presentations regarding the “New DNA Techniques for Criminal Investigations” and “DNA Dangers: Understanding Errors in Forensic Justice.” He used the Bra Clasp Collection video made by the Perugian police to show examples of mistakes that technicians made at the crime scene and also presented his lab’s ‘Soda Can Experiment’ which demonstrates the ease of DNA Transfer from object to object when gloves are not changed each time a new piece of evidence is handled. Italian technicians admitted to not changing gloves during collection of key evidence, allowing the evidence to be compromised.
Zupancic, a member of the Injustice Anywhere Advisory Board from Applied Bimolecular Technologies, discussed “How Handling and Processing of DNA Evidence Affect Validity.” He discussed accepted collection/processing protocols and how sloppy/incorrect techniques or falsifying processing records can invalidate the outcome of investigations. Dan Krane, whose firm Forensic Bioinformatics reviews cases involving forensic DNA testing, used Zupanic’s points as examples while presenting his topics “Attaching Statistical Weight to Mixed DNA Profiles with Dropout” and “Implications of Database Analysis to CODIS Searches.”
Said Zupancic, “The importance of discovery, open disclosure, and the release of the EDF’s cannot be understated. American attorneys in Chicago were stunned to hear how the Italian forensic analysts and prosecutors connected to the Knox-Sollecito case manipulated and withheld evidence in this case. Such behavior would never have been tolerated in the American System. It shows an inherent contempt for fairness, the concept of justice and is a serious breach of acceptable judicial practices.”
Fischer commented that “DNA analysis is nothing like the public sees on TV and the current system is intrinsically biased toward the prosecution. Testing practices leave room for analysts to manipulate the results, as we have seen in the Kercher investigation. It was great to see the work completed by our forum members being presented at the conference. Many thanks to Tom for his outstanding presentation and thank you to the Injustice Anywhere and Injustice In Perugia volunteers that have put in the time and effort to present the facts of the Meredith Kercher murder case on our websites.”
Fischer, Zupancic and Hampikian agree that their out-spoken defense of Knox and Sollecito is also successfully calling attention to a much larger injustice where the fundamental flaws in justice systems allow biased prosecutors to push for convictions with little, if any, regard for justice.